Onward Christian Soldier – A Tribute to Jeff Ziegler

March 5, 2012

The Church Universal has only two divisions.

  1. The Church Militant – Ecclesia Militans – are those Christians living on earth. They are the Christian militia who struggle against sin, the flesh, the devil and “… the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
  2. The Church Triumphant – Ecclesia Triumphans – are those Christians who are in Heaven. Although progressive sanctification takes place through this struggle on earth, those who pass on to be present with the Lord are made perfect “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

As much as anyone I have ever known, Jeff Ziegler was a man who understood the meaning of the Church Militant. On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, Jeff became part of the Church Triumphant. He has been relieved of all earthly struggle and has been made perfect in Christ.

Jeff had suffered a cerebellar aneurysm in late 2009 and had been recovering from what is certain death in about 97 percent of cases. Doctors called his recovery late December of that year a “Christmas miracle.” Last week, Jeff suffered a heart attack while doing work at the Ohio State House. This was apparently unrelated to the earlier episode.

I first met Jeff when he was a speaker in our church, The Boston Worship Center, in 1987. A group of us took him on a “revival tour” of northern New England visiting several of the churches where a hero in the faith, George Whitefield, had preached. Jeff later traveled to England and Scotland and was able to preach in one of the pulpits frequented by Whitefield. In the 25 years I knew him, Jeff was a man driven by a vision for Revival and Reformation.

He went through quite a theological evolution in his lifetime. However, in all my dealings with Jeff, he was always Jeff. In the early 1990s, after I came to Florida to work on The Forerunner. Jeff would contribute frequent articles, which I’ve posted links to below. Our phone calls often went on for a long time and covered every topic imaginable. Jeff had a huge impact on my thinking as a young Christian involved in full-time missionary and evangelistic work. I saw him whenever he came to Florida and visited Cleveland for two conferences he organized. Jeff was always very gracious, yet direct when he needed to be. For example, he used to call me when I was doing print version of The Forerunner to give me names of donors that were generous with him. He did that without my solicitation just trying to help me.

Jeff took a role in leading several organizations throughout Ohio for the purpose of direct action in reforming culture and politics. One of the former members of his church recently described him as “a gentleman of the first order … he lived what he believed, a rare commodity in 2012.”

He later took part in video productions I produced, including God’s Law and Society and the following clip as part of a World Changers Seminar on the Capitol Mall in Washington D.C.

One of the hallmarks of Jeff’s preaching is that he always threw his whole heart and being into his message, speaking with the same forceful tone and volume no matter if it were a crowd of hundreds or less than a handful of people in a small seminar. We recently worked together on the Statesman Global Initiatives website and blog. Jeff’s most recent book, Republic Restored, was accepted into the Library of Congress.

Recent years had more than their share of personal trials and medical turmoil that took a toll on this soldier for Christ, but he can rejoice that he has joined the Church Triumphant.


God’s Law and Society: An Interview with Jeff Ziegler

Question:– Didn’t the Apostle Paul say that we are no longer under law but under grace? If so, then what is the use of the Law of God under the New Covenant?

Jeff Ziegler: The notion of being “under grace and not law” is something not to be underestimated or undermined. But what is it Paul is saying? We are not saved nor justified by law. We are justified by faith in Christ. It is His finished work alone that secures our redemption. However, how is it that we are to live our lives? Is it by every whim or every fancy of our own wicked heart — a deceitful heart that we cannot know? The Law of God has not passed away in terms of our guide for life in godliness. Jesus himself said that “not one jot nor tittle will pass away” until all things are fulfilled. Christ as the fulfillment of the law gives us the grace, which is divine almighty power effective on our behalf. He gives us the grace to live according to the law not to transgress the law. We see in Romans 6:1, “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” And how is it we know that we sin? We have an unchanging standard in God’s Law.

Now granted, there have been portions of Old Testament Law that have been changed or nullified. For example, the sacrificial system is no longer needed and is repugnant to God because Christ is the final and last sacrifice. The dietary laws have been modified and changed. But the moral law is still binding. For example, the laws against bestiality in the Old Testament are no where repeated in the New. Yet no one will say that bestiality is somehow now under grace. It’s still sin. The ideas and notions of our conduct are in the Law of God. They are not options. They are commands. They have not been nullified or abridged in any way by Christ’s finished work. In fact, now that law is written upon our heart and our mind and we are given grace to follow hard after them in a way that was not possible in the old dispensation.

Of course, Christianity is ultimately personal and intimate. We come by the finished work of Jesus Christ into a living, real and vital relationship with God. The creation can touch the Creator — the Christ. That brings joy unspeakable and full of glory — there can be no doubt. But then what? This personal, real and vital relationship must be manifest. The Great Commission says that we are to be a witness unto all nations. We are to teach those nations all the things that Christ did depict and declare. That means that we are to enforce, declare and disciple the nations, every tribe, every kindred, every ethnic grouping under and according to God’s Law.

The idea that religion is only personal is actually heretical. That’s an ancient heresy called Gnosticism. They said that the material world was evil and the unseen world was innately spiritual. That’s why so many Christians in that era, and even today, have not had a proper view of sexuality, the family, the role of the Church, their role in society, and even the idea of work and creating wealth. They think the material world is evil. And therefore, they must cultivate material monastic ideas to be closer to Christ. But the idea of being close to Christ, the chosen fast of God, is to go out and set at liberty the captives. So whether it is preaching the Gospel to men so that they may be redeemed. Or whether that means going into the civil realm as a politician and declaring the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ there and ruling diligently according to the Law of God. Or whether that means being a home schooling mom and raising a generation of champions for Jesus Christ. At every realm, Christ the expression of the Gospel, His life is real and vital, and therefore it must have an outward flow.


Question:– Was the New Testament Church really a “New Testament” Church as we think of it today? In what ways was their situation different from ours?

Jeff Ziegler: The battle in America is between two ideas or notions and it is the Lordship of Jesus Christ versus the authority of the state or “Caesar.” And that’s really always been the question. Even in Christ’s day, in the Gospels we see that the issue is always framed around: What allegiance do we owe to Caesar? What are our duties? And what allegiance do we owe to Christ?

Romans 13 gives us the parameter by which we are to judge our actions in this way. Romans 13 declares what kind of civil magistrate or elected official is endorsed by God. This kind of civil magistrate be he a monarch, a king, a parliamentarian, a congressmen, a president, must affirm God’s law, punish wickedness, and affirm and reward righteousness. That is the kind of civil magistrate we are to obey. However, if the civil magistrate becomes tyranny to God’s ways and in fact punishes righteousness and rewards wickedness, by virtue of their call to obey God’s Law-Word in every jot and tittle, by His grace, Christians must be resolved to resist tyranny and to stand against such injustice.

While there was no implicit call to resist the tyranny of Rome by Paul, the fact that he gave us that filter in Romans 13 actually was a defense of the civil disobedience of the early church. The very preaching of the Gospel, the serving of Christ as the Lord of the nations, as He being God alone and no the Caesar cult, that was an act of civil disobedience. That’s the reason why the Christians were persecuted and hounded and sent to the catacombs and put into the coliseums in the fierce competitions and the persecutions of Imperial Rome. It was the fact that they were not obeying the Caesar cult. So Romans 13 is a defense of the Gospel, but when we act upon the Gospel, when we preach the Gospel, when we live the Gospel, it is inevitably going to bring us in conflict with Caesar — or the state that would be God.

When we look throughout the book of Acts and we see the Apostles, the deacons, and simple Christians being brought before civil magistrates giving an account for their faith and the Apostle Paul is one of these. And the question comes down to: When it is Christ versus Caesar, do we obey God and His Law or man? That is the issue between Christ and Caesar and on that there can be no neutrality, if we consistently live the Gospel, preach the Gospel, demonstrate the Gospel. Even the idea of rescuing babies — the early church were taking abandoned babies that were left under the bridge abutment to die by Roman paganism. They were taking them as their own and adopting them and raising them in the faith. That was against Roman law. A true Gospel expression will always bring us into conflict, not with the civil magistrate that God ordains, but with the civil magistrate who seeks to dethrone God and become God himself.


Question:– Can we really legislate the biblical standards of morality on non-Christians? The non-Christian doesn’t even believe in the Bible, so how can we even talk about building a society based on the Law of God?

Jeff Ziegler: The idea that we can be governed by many moralities, or pluralism, is really a myth. We are either in obedience to God’s Law or we are in opposition to God’s Law. Now there is a concern in a mechanistic sense that we are going to impose God’s Law through an ecclesiocracy, that is a rule through the clergy, or through some dictatorship as in an Islamic nation. That is a misinterpretation of biblical Law. Biblical Law when it regards civil polity, is the ultimate decentralized government. Scripture does not support nor trust dictatorships. The whole idea behind God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel was that man was coming together. He had all of his strength in one central location and had a global government. And God by once stroke of the hand decentralized that government and turned the languages against one another and formed nation-states from that one expression of a global tyranny.

That is the paradigm of the liberal. Liberals and humanists think in terms of statism. They must have the state to coerce and to force their ideas upon the people. They don’t have another way of thinking. The state is messiah for them. When they look upon us and see our ideas and notions, that we are fighting for biblical law being applied to all of life, they can’t think in any other terms. They think it’s going to be a top-down theocratic, oligarchic or monarchic system. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not revolution or political dictatorships that we place our faith in, rather it’s the power of conversion. We are converting literally millions to the idea that God’s Law is supreme. We see these revolutionary trends in home schooling, in ecclesiastical reform, and in the civil realm as we elect expressly and explicitly Christian politicians — not simple neo-conservatives — but Christians who acknowledge God’s Law.

As we see this, one family at a time, one church at a time, one community at a time, one state at a time, America will be converted. It will be through conversion and not revolution that we see this great reordering and restructuring and reanchoring of our society to God’s Law. Now there will always be those who are autonomous rebels, who trample underfoot the Son of God, who count the blood of the covenant to be unholy. They will always seek to overthrow God’s rule. In the family, we see it with divorce and abortion. We see it in the church with ecclesiastical anarchists, those who will not be governed by sound doctrine. We see it in civil states. But only if they resort to violent means to overthrow godly order would they be suppressed. But they would not be suppressed by clergymen, but by a decentralized federal republic.


Question:– How did Christian philosophy influence our form of civil government?

Jeff Ziegler: There is great consternation and controversy about what Christ’s Lordship actually means in the real world. Most Christians will not argue with the fact that He does rule our lives. He is the ruler, the Lord, the King of their families and their church. But much beyond that, the idea of Christ’s Lordship begins to fall on deaf ears. The retort you often hear revolves around the time period when Christ is before Pilate’s inquisition and says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Let’s put this in context however. Christ was not saying that His kingdom was not manifest in the world. What he was saying to Pilate “My kingdom does not gain it’s authority from Rome or the Sanhedrin. My authority comes from on high.” Pilate understood this. The irony is that the pagan tyrant understood, but Christians don’t today. So the authority of Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, but nonetheless, the kingdom has invaded this civil realm, the family realm, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Every aspect of society is touched by the kingdom of God.

Now how does this work practically? If every time we’ll confess, “Every knee will bow” before Christ, that He is the Lord, that monarchs, kings, state representatives, congressmen, and presidents must bow their knee before God. By what standard will they bow the knee? Yes, it gets back to God’s Law. The kingdom has no place in terms of seeking approval or legitimacy here in the earth. It doesn’t need the president’s approval to exist. It’s authority comes from the other world. And therefore it is superior and higher. But the kingdom is manifest in the world and Christ’s Lordship is manifest in the world in the civil realm, in the family, in every aspect of society, economics, science etc. Christ’s Lordship has the claim.

We talk about the crown rights of Jesus Christ. By virtue of the finished work of Jesus Christ, He has the right to rule. He has the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He has reconciled all things in heaven and in earth, the visible and the invisible, the living and the dead. He rules over all. Christ’s kingdom is comprehensive in scope and absolute in its authority.


Question:– Were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution drafted to uphold the moral laws of God — or were they Deistic humanist documents? If they were Christian documents, where have we gone so far off track?

Jeff Ziegler: There is no question that our Founding Fathers were an amalgamation of some Deistic humanists, Puritan thought as well as high Anglicanism, all mixed together and jostling for position in the context of our founding federal documents. However, there was an acknowledgment of man’s overriding depravity, the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely was not a foreign idea to these men. In looking at the Hebrew Commonwealth in its decentralized forms of government, our founding fathers in their wisdom, set about to create a system where there would be checks and balances against this idea of absolute power, government by man, tyrannical carnality, with three branches of government, all of which are supposed to work to counter balance the other. At least theoretically, they would keep in check any tyrannical impulse.

Unfortunately, that assumes these three institutions are appealing to God’s Law. No matter how good the system, unless it is under the aegis and covering of God’s Law, any system can revert to tyranny. It can be the tyranny of the majority of paganism, of humanism. Even in Israel, in the Hebrew Commonwealth, when they began to apostatize and fall away from God’s Law, what did they begin to cry out for? — a tyrant, a king “like all he other nations.” They paid the price for it in terms of wars, tyrannical suppression and taxation, and ultimately in the division of their nation in two separate entities and then the invasion of foreign pagan powers to bring them under the enslavement of their anti-God ways. So they ultimately paid the price and we will too if we don’t turn back to God’s Law.

When we can compare biblical law versus natural law, scripture is the final immutable authority on every subject of which it speaks. It is binding not only on the regenerate that is the Christian, but the unregenerate alike. You’ll either are following God’s Law and prospering accordingly, or you’ll be broken by it. It doesn’t change. So whether you acknowledge it or not, it exists, and all men are judged by its standards.

Now there is certainly natural revelation. God has made himself known in the creation — there is evidence of his creation everywhere. But ultimately it is not evidence that man needs. It’s conviction of sin and to have his miscreant depraved nature arrested. The role of the civil magistrate is to keep a biblical and sound order, to prosper the righteous and to punish wickedness. You can’t do that by natural revelation or natural law. Now it’s true that in a godly or predominantly godly society, men will understand natural law in a way that mimics or comes close to biblical law. We see that in the embryonic stages of our nation. However, natural law can be co-opted and pirated by corrupt alien and humanistic worldviews. Natural law can be interpreted from many different angles. In so doing, morality become relativistic.

However, that cannot be said of the Ten Commandments because not only do we have the explicit injunction “Thou shalt not kill” (or murder) or “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But we have case laws which interpret that law and how it is to be administered in the civil realm. So biblical law is superior because it is defined revelation. It is specific and applicable.


Question:– What about the “establishment of religion” clause in the U.S. Constitution? Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution forbid the display of religion in the civil sphere?

Jeff Ziegler: The main differences between the Roman Empire under the Caesar cult and the early Church’s reaction to it and Christians today in a constitutional republic, despite the fact that we’ve lost so many of our freedoms, we still have remedy at law to begin to work within the process to restore and reconstruct our nation along biblical lines — simply to restore it to what it once was. Under the Roman authority, Christians did not have the means to defend themselves. Christians did not have the right to an appeal. But we have that process here. We have the right to defend ourselves. We have a Constitution. We have a Bill of Rights. We have elected representatives that we can work with, lower civil magistrates that we can work alongside, convert to the faith and even elect those who are explicitly Christian to these lower realms and then begin to work up into the governmental powers that be.

Reconstruction and reformation is a ground-up idea. The idea of seizing control of Washington D.C., of the Congress and presidency, is hopelessly naive. We have to reconstruct families. We have to reconstruct churches. We have to begin to work at the local level. We have to develop regional zones of kingdom influence. Within that realm, we are exhibiting, testifying, and working for the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ. So in that realm Christians have a greater hope and an easier road to hoe than the early Christians did versus the imperial power of Rome.

It’s not as if this is a new thing that we are talking about. Our nation was founded under these strictures. If you go to any of the early colonial charters, the Fundamental Charters of Carolina, for example, there was a test for Christian orthodoxy for all civil magistrates and even land owners that they had to adhere to before they could be a recognized and vibrant part of the social fabric. We are not talking about anything that has not been done. It was done and accomplished in our nation and prior to the War Between the States, America prospered under such a mandate.

So we are not talking about Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. We are not talking about Islamic law. We’re talking about biblical law. If we go back and we look at the Commonwealth of the Hebrew Republic, before the kings, we see a very decentralized system of government. Many people have the notion that Moses was a dictator, but that was only in the initial stages of the Exodus, which was primarily a military operation. Soon after that we see that Moses was going to wear away the people and God not only gave 70 elders, but princes and captains of fifties and tens. So you had this incredibly decentralized system of government among the tribes of Israel. People could say it was inefficient, but the whole idea was a check and balance against man’s depravity. We modeled our constitutional republic after the Hebrew Commonwealth. That’s what we’re talking about here.


Question:– What about the idea that the government should be neutral and should recognize that we live in a democratic, pluralistic society?

Jeff Ziegler: Probably the greatest evidence of humanism’s collapse and the reactionary statist hand being felt is in the former monopoly that we call public education. Public education is no such thing; it’s government indoctrination. After all, whether it be Hitler, Stalin or Mao, tyrants always try to grab hold of the next generation to perpetuate their rebellion. The public school system on a number of different fronts is beginning to collapse — academically, economically because people are no longer voting for levies, and because it is becoming more centralized in Washington D.C. Centralization is never an answer. Any business man could tell you that if the public school elitists definitely wanted to succeed, they would not want to centralize, but that is what they are doing. As these things begin to happen, more and more individuals leave the public school system either for parochial schools, private schools or for home school.

The correct reason for home schooling is not simply the quality of education in the government run school system. It is to say that the government has no authority whatever over you children., You are the one who is ultimately responsible.

As more have home schools, as more move to the parochial schools what is happening is a literal depopulation of the public system. Laws are being enacted at the state and federal level to destroy the freedom the parents have over their children. Home schoolers think that they have fought most of the legal battles in the 1980s. Actually they are going to see that their own success is going to breed a greater backlash by the state against their efforts. Ultimately, the state believes, whether at the local municipality, state or federal government, that they own the children. And that is where the great backlash of a collapsing humanism is going to be felt. It is going to take courage, conviction and sound theology by Christian parents not only to resist the tyranny, but to fight for justice.


Question:– Wouldn’t a Christian Republic run according to God’s Law become oppressive to non-Christians?

Jeff Ziegler: Freedom, liberty, has one chief end, and that is to advance Christ’s rule, His reign, over all the nations and all the realms of the earth. Liberty without the sure anchor of Christian orthodoxy is really a Greco-Roman idea. It leads either on one hand to unfettered licentiousness and moral anarchy, or on the other, to a paternalistic tyranny. Because when you have moral anarchy, the state will move to suppress that anarchy. Without Christian orthodoxy, the hope of freedom and liberty for which our Founding Fathers fought is elusive at best.

When autonomous man seeks liberty from God, his first action is to revolt against God’s law in order to fulfill the lusts of his flesh. Thereafter this period of anarchy, the messianic state seeks to suppress this moral anarchy. At that point, you have tyranny. You have the liberal or the right wing imposing their own morality apart from God. And so the whole idea of liberty is connected intrinsically to the idea of God’s moral law. Liberty apart from God’s law is an impossibility. There is no neutrality on this issue. It’s either God’s law or chaos. And if we have chaos, we will have tyranny. God has designed all governments, whether they are fascist, communist or democratic republics, to gravitate towards stability. The only question is will it be the governance of God’s Law or communism or fascism or any other man-centered humanistic ideal. So man can have his licentious, lust-filled day in the sun. But he will pay a price in the ultimate loss of all freedom.

It is no accident that apostasy and heresy in the church and civil tyranny among nations walk hand in hand. The orthodox expression of Christianity is the final guarantor of our freedoms. And so if heresy and infidelity to orthodoxy gains ascendancy within the church, it will eventually work its way out into the civil sphere. People often ask me why we have such oppressive government in America today. And my answer is: Don’t point to Washington D.C., because, while it is Sodom on the Potomac, the real problem lies with the pulpits of America. Unless we affirm Christian orthodoxy and the resulting freedoms it has birthed and guaranteed throughout the years, we will continue to be enslaved by our statist masters.


Question:– What can Christians begin to do from a practical standpoint to begin to rebuild our nation according to the standard of the Law of God? What would a Christian America look like?

Jeff Ziegler: The way that the state attempts to supplant God is to intrude upon the God-given rights of personal property and the pursuit of happiness — the things which are codified in our founding documents. This is true of communism, fascism, socialism and even a democratic republic. When the state begins to tax property, when it says that property which is given to you by God is now subject to their rule and their reign. You no longer own that property. You have become a serf through property taxes and income taxes. God gives you the power to get wealth. He is not the disburser of wealth, but gives you the power to get wealth to honor God. When they begin to tax income, property and things of this nature, they are intruding upon rights that God has given you. If they curtail your speech regarding the Gospel. We see that around abortion mills in these “buffer zones” where you cannot preach the Gospel or declare God’s Law. These notions to control the freedom to worship God are all signs of tyranny.

But the good news is this. Tyranny only goes so far and so long before it begins to burn out. First, because of its own corruption. Second, because there is only so much money and so much property to tax. Eventually, this insatiable appetite for more has to be curtailed by simple arithmetic. In America today, we have reached the point where moral corruption, infidelity to Gods law in the civil realm, humanism as a life assistance in the collegiate realm among the intellectual elite, Darwinism, all of these notions are coming to the end of their political and social life span. In fact, I can hear the death rattle in the throat of humanism. They know it. This is in one way encouraging, but in another way it leads us to the most dangerous period. Whenever these systems begin to collapse, men who have tied their fortunes, their lives, their reputations to these corrupted and fallen paradigms become very vicious and violent.

We see this in the old Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union began to collapse, it was uneven. We see anarchy, murder, the Russian Mafia. Yet there could be more political tumult there and in Eastern Europe. We don’t see the end of this yet. The same thing could happen in America. When humanism ultimately collapses and Christians rise to the fore, we could see things like the break-up and realignment of the United States. What is happening in the Soviet Union could certainly happen here. Those are dangerous times when one system is collapsing and another system arises. My great hope is that there is sufficient reformation and reconstruction in the church so that when the paradigm of humanism ultimately collapses, we will be able in the crisis to fill that vacuum. Otherwise, we’ll exchange one tyranny for another.


Jeff Ziegler: The Reformation Worldview

On September 3rd, 2000, a few Christian activists and scholars gathered on the Mall in Washington D.C. to conduct a day-long seminar on “world changing.” Exactly one year later, terrorists attacked Washington and New York. It became apparent that America must fight a long and costly was on two fronts. While international terrorism is being fought on one front, Christians activists must wage a war against a more subtle attack by anti-Christian “terrorists” within.

This seminar has become more relevant in light of the events of 9/11.

We offer this seminar to the next generation of world changers who can be used of God to turn our nation back from humanist domination.


Resistance to Tyrants

March 28, 2011

By Jay Rogers

It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God’s ministers…. When magistrates rob and ruin the people, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen.— Jonathan Mayhew (1720 – 1766), Congregational minister at West Church in Boston

Should Christians always obey the government? If a government is ungodly should Christians resist the government? Romans 13 is often used as a proof text to say that we must obey civil rulers in all circumstances. Here is an underlying confusion between the person holding the office and the authority of that office which is established and maintained by God.

In John Knox’s day, the church had to deal with a wicked ruler, Mary Queen of Scots, who claimed authority merely because she held the office of regent. Knox argued that rulers who are disobedient to God have no part in civil office. Romans 13; 1 Timothy 2:1-2 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 refer specifically to just rulers and not to Lawless covenant breaking rulers. When David broke the commandments of God, it was the duty of the prophet Nathan to resist him, because God himself resisted David. In fact, when God himself opposes such rulers, it is the Church’s duty to pray imprecations and to resist their wickedness in obedience to the Law of God. If a tyrant is guilty for his crimes before God, then it is our duty to oppose him. If he repents, then our opposition to his sin will be used of God to bring him to repentance (as was the case with David). But if he does not repent, then our complicity with his sin will make us equally guilty.

Here I will answer some objections to this covenantal understanding of disobedience to tyrants. The following are actual objections culled from letters and articles I have received over the past few years from Christian leaders.

Objection #1: “The Lord wants to use the church even more than He wants to use the government.”

Here is a basic misunderstanding of the rule of God betrayed by the use of the phrase “the government.” Government does not refer to the civil sphere only. God has ordained all government; it falls into several biblical spheres: individual, family, church and civil government. Each one has a divine role to play in governing society. It is not a matter of God wanting to use the church “even more.” It’s rather a matter of each sphere fulfilling its proper role. The church cannot do what God has ordained for the civil magistrate (such as enforce the death penalty); nor can the state do what God ordained for the church (enforce church discipline and preserve correct doctrine); nor can the state play the role of the family (raise and educate our children). Our society is presently in a weird feeble state because we have not correctly understood these distinctions.

Objection #2: “We have a mandate from God to pray for and support our government, regardless of what we think about the current administration.”

We must always pray for our civil rulers, yes, but we should only support them if they uphold the covenant of God by ruling righteously. Over 400 years ago, the Scottish Covenanters refuted the idea of the “Divine Right of Kings” arguing that the king himself is in covenant with God. The people, as the king’s subjects, were also a part of the covenant.

Yes, God ordained earthly rulers, but only those who were just and obedient to God’s covenant with civil rulers (Romans 13:3-5). These rulers: (1) are not a terror to good works; (2) are ministers of good not evil; (3) bear not the sword in vain [unjustly]; (4) are servants of God (5) avengers of evil. If a civil ruler breaks covenant with God, the people are obliged to throw off the shackles of tyranny. Otherwise the people are guilty of submitting to the unjust commandments of wicked rulers.

Objection #3: “We must not continue to worship at the feet of political movements, trying to get the government to do the church’s job.”

What is really being said here is that it is not the civil rulers’ job to enforce the Law of God on issues such as abortion nor to bring biblical punishment to law breakers. Of course, this is absurd!

The church has its part to play and the state has its part. Both are responsible to uphold the rule of God’s Law in its own sphere. A model of government in which the church ruled supreme or the state ruled supreme would result in tyranny (and it often has). It is simply not God’s biblically ordained plan.

Objection #4: “If the energy now being put into political activism were redirected into prayer and the preaching of the gospel, far more would be accomplished for righteousness and truth than will ever be established through legislation.”

“Abortion is not a gospel issue.”

“If we would just preach the gospel; just pray more; etc. …”

Yet each of these sayings is antinomian. It seems that some Christians will always object to the idea of enforcing the Law of God.

Objection #5: “Morality instituted by compulsion can only be maintained by increasing control and fear.”

On the contrary, it is our God-given duty to maintain morality under “compulsion.” This is one of the reasons why the moral Law of God was given: it restrains the passions of a sinner in society.

John Calvin commented on this use of the Law:

Then, since the law declares God will be the avenger, sets punishment for transgressors, and threatens death and judgment, it serves at least by fear of punishment to restrain certain men who, unless compelled, are untouched by any concern for what is just and right. But they are restrained, not because their inner mind is stirred or affected, but because, being bridled, so to speak, they keep their hands from outward activity, and hold inside the depravity that otherwise they would wantonly have indulged. Consequently, they are neither better nor more righteous before God. Even though hindered by fright or shame, they dare neither execute what they have conceived in their minds or rage according to their lust. Still, they do not have hearts disposed to fear and obey God. Indeed, the more they restrain themselves, the more they are inflamed, burn and boil within, and are ready to do anything or burst forth anywhere — but for the fact that this dread of the law hinders them. Not only that — but so wickedly do they also hate the law itself, and curse God the Lawgiver, that if they could they would most certainly abolish him, for they cannot bear him either when he commands them to do right, or when he takes vengeance on the despisers of his majesty. But constrained and forced righteousness is necessary for the public community of men, for whose tranquillity the Lord so provided in guarding against complete and violent confusion. This would happen if all things were permitted to all men (Calvin, Institutes).

There are only two possible types of societies: a society under total sanctification with no compulsion; or a society that is only partially sanctified yet under compulsion to obey the Law. One of our founders put it this way, “If all men were angels, there would be no need for government.” Within history, there will never be a thoroughly “Christian” nation, in that not all members of the society will be entirely sanctified. In most societies, there will always be some sinners living in open rebellion to God. To advocate “no compulsion” is another way to say that sinners are free to do whatever they please in this life.

Since some will never be saved (and Christians will remain imperfect) the only restraint for their sin is “compulsion” under the moral Law of God. If a man is a thief, he should be punished for his thievery. What is called “oppression and bondage” is actually the moral Law of God acting as a standard for societal righteousness.

Some believe that God’s Law can have no jurisdiction over unconverted people. According to this reasoning, any attempt made to prevent the unconverted from their acts of sin is a futile, fleshly attempt to do only what the Holy Spirit can do through salvation. In reality, unconverted people are under the Law and therefore under the jurisdiction of God. Sinners are under the curse of the Law, because they haven’t obeyed the Law (Galatians 3:10). Of course, our primary objective is the salvation of the sinner. But to deny societal morality because it is instituted by “compulsion” is to advocate lawlessness and anarchy.

Objection #6: “When revival comes, we will not have to worry about changing laws — the people will be changed.”

Revival does not negate the role of the moral law of God in governing society. True revival is always characterized by: (1) Recovery of the Law-Word of God in the church and society; (2) Tremendous judgment of sin in the church and society; (3) Societal transformation. A.W. Tozer wrote: “Revival changes the moral climate of a community.”

These characteristics have been borne out by historical fact and are recorded in the writings of America’s past revivalists such as Charles Finney, John Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. These men have also taught us that politics or “civil government” is an institution to be reformed according to God’s Word.

“Revival” does not imply utopian perfection. When we have “revival” there will still be a need for civil government. As time goes on, its role will lessen and it will function within its God-given authority. In a biblically ordered society, for instance, acts of abortion might still occur, but the offenders would be punished by the civil authorities. Biblical Law enforced by the civil magistrate acts as a deterrent to crime.

Objection #7: There is also the prevailing view that “politics is dirty and cannot be expected to be as holy and sacred as the church.”

The Bible plainly teaches that both of these institutions are given by God and are equally holy, both are set apart for His purposes. The church has spiritual authority to address matters of morality, but civil government was given by God to punish wrongdoing (Romans 13).

Objection #8: “The Pharisees were on the right side of moral issues, but Christ opposed them for having a spirit of intolerance.”

The fact is, Jesus Christ opposed the Pharisees because they were lawless, covenant-breakers who held to the traditions of men rather than the Law of God.

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” (Matthew 23:2,3).

Christ commanded his disciples to obey the Law, but He condemned the Pharisees for not observing the Law. Elsewhere He accused them of theft and idolatry.

Objection #9: “I’m not under the law. I’d rather err on the side of liberty than on the side of legalism.”

These statements belie a basic misunderstanding of the relationship between Law and Grace. There is some confusion among Christians today when discussing the Law of God and the Grace of God. When many Christians speak of grace or “Christian liberty,” they are often advocating a license to sin or an “antinomian” view that is clearly condemned in Scripture. Likewise, when many evangelicals speak of “the law” what they are referring to is not the moral Law of God, but a system of legalism or traditions devised by men. Many people view Law and Grace as being opposites. But both are true and necessary as standards of true conversion.

The grace of God means infinitely more than forgiveness of sin and umerited favor; it also entails the victorious Christian life and final perserverance to the resurrection. Grace is not merely a “covering for individual acts of sin” (justification) but it is “power over all sin” (sanctification).

Yet the moral Law of God remains the measure of sanctification for the believer. Furthermore, the Law of God, when codified as a basis for civil law, restrains the passion of the sinner (i.e., capital punishment is a deterrent to murder). It also acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Knowledge of the moral Law of God brings individuals knowledge of sin. How can we be saved unless we first know that we are sinners? Christ works through the moral Law as a means of grace to bring sinners to salvation. This is why we need to preach the Law of God to sinners in addition to salvation by grace through faith.

Thus there is no contradication between being “bound to obey the moral Law” and “being under grace.” The Law and Grace are not diametrically opposed, but are completely complementary doctrines.

Objection #10: “There are no political solutions. Jesus Christ is not a Republican nor a Democrat. He did not come to take sides in man’s political struggles. He came to take over.”

Yes, He came to have dominion. But His rule does not tolerate antinomianism!

The role of the Christian is to continue to resist evil tyrants until they leave office. It is sad that we have to have this discussion in America, a country founded on the ideals of Puritan theology. In the 1700s, at the time of the American Revolution, the average American citizen understood Puritan social theory and had a foundation in all these ideas. Samuel Adams said, referring to the overthrow of George III’s tyranny in America:

He who sets up and pulls down, confines or extends empires at his pleasure, generally, if not always, carries on his work with instruments apparently unfit for the great purpose, but which in his hands are always effectual … God does the work, but not without instruments, and they who are employed are denominated as his servants; no king, nor kingdom was ever destroyed by a miracle which effectually excluded the agency of second causes … We may affect humility in refusing to be made the instruments of Divine vengeance, but the good servant will execute the will of his master. Samuel will slay Agag; Moses, Aaron, and Hur will pray in the mountain, and Joshua will defeat the Canaanites.

And so the Church must defeat tyranny. If a civil ruler does not have God’s spirit in him, his lawless works will show him to be anti-Christ. If he rules in a tyrannical manner, we are duty bound to resist him as humble instruments in the hands of God. And if he does not repent of murder and idolatry, we are bound to destroy his regime.


Dr. George Tiller and “Defensive Action”

June 1, 2009

By Jay Rogers

If you are concerned with the abortion issue at all, you already know about Dr. George Tiller’s death. Tiller was the late term abortionist who operated a clinic in Wichita, Kansas. He was shot to death while serving as an usher in his church on Sunday, May 31st, 2009.

In 1993, I moved into a house directly across the street from one of America’s most notorious abortion clinics, Aware Woman Center for Choice in Melbourne, Florida. I had been involved in pro-life activism at abortion clinics since 1989 and was especially concerned that, after the shooting deaths of two abortionists in 1993, the movement was in serious trouble. Rather than duck and cover like so many other Christian media outlets had done, I felt it was the right time to confront the issue head on with a viable solution. I later bought the house and it became a staging area for peaceful protest. I became obnoxious to both the abortionists, who attempted unsuccessfully to sue me, and even to some pro-lifers who refused to act without a proper respect for the guidance of seasoned pro-life pastors and leaders. I even banned several people from use of my property who refused to follow the protocol I demanded as the owner. Eventually, the clinic was forced to close in 1999 and the owners chose to retire rather than relocate.

But in 1993, the prospect of furthering peaceful resistance looked bleak. With the election of Bill Clinton, restrictive federal laws were created concerning free speech and assembly. The right to protest in front of abortion clinic in Melbourne, Florida was made illegal for a time. Such laws, which were applied only to pro-lifers, would have been unthinkable had they been applied to any other social activist group. Civil rights protesters who trespassed in “whites only” restaurants, PETA protesters who spray paint fur, and environmental activists who chain themselves to redwoods to save the trees from logging companies are not only tolerated under the first amendment, but even celebrated within their own community of advocates. But with the election of Clinton, pro-life speech suddenly became illegal. The reason given, of course, was to curb the “terrorism” of the defensive action crowd within the pro-life movement.

The crisis of principles was inevitable. Pro-life advocates believe abortion is murder. Many of us were drawn into pro-life activism because we were challenged by a radical idea.

If you believe that abortion is murder, then act like it is murder!

Taken to a logical extreme comes the philosophy of defensive action — that it is permissible to use violent force in resistance to a more egregious violent force. I wrote a response to defensive action in 1993, called Justifiable Homicide that was published in the Christian Reconstructionist magazine, The Chalcedon Report. The article has been referenced by both pro-life and pro-abortion activists. I won’t paste my argument in its entirety into this blog entry, but it is available at our website:

http://www.forerunner.com/chalcedon/X0003_3._Justifiable_homic.html

Defensive action is the idea that violent force in the defense of life is permissible since a human life is being taken in an abortion. Since the civil magistrates’ duty is to protect life is being neglected, it is logical to a certain type of mind that individual violent resistance becomes permissible in these cases. Defensive action advocates claim that this is not vigilantism, but the necessary use of violent force in defense of life.

In 1993, Rachelle Shannon used this rationale to shot Dr. Tiller in both arms with a .32 caliber pistol — a gun that is able to kill, but usually does not incapacitate people. Her intent has to merely prevent his ability to commit abortion that day, but not to kill. I remember at the time wondering why in heaven’s name, if she used this argument to justify her defensive action, she simply didn’t finish the job once and for all. As one activist remarked, “This woman is a disgrace both to our pro-life ethic and our marksmanship!”

I’ve spent many hours debating with the defensive action crowd. I will be the first to say that their argument, although wrong, deserves careful scrutiny. I actually agree with defensive action in certain cases. Think of the following situation. Let’s say a serial child molester was released from prison. It defies all justice that the man was released, but let’s suppose that an extreme circumstance was responsible for this travesty. Suppose also that this sociopath has moved into your neighborhood. Soon after that you discover that your six-year-old daughter has wandered on to his property. After a frantic search, you find your child pinned to the ground by the man in the very act of rape. You hold a baseball bat in your hand.

Is it permissible in this case to use deadly force in defense of life?

Let’s say a group of pastors in Nazi Germany begin to participate in a strategy of espionage that results in several assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler. We applaud the resistance of brave Lutheran pastors and erstwhile pacifists such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoeller, precisely because their defensive action in taking one life would have prevented the killing of tens of millions.

What makes killing abortion doctors any different?

The reason is that the defensive action scenarios and their actual implementation have never taken place within the confines of God’s law. That is not to say that they cannot in any circumstance be justified. For instance, if a family member, let’s say a 16-year-old daughter, was about to kill her unborn child and was inside the abortion clinic with a police presence that prevented you from interceding for the life of the baby. I believe it would be permissible to use violent force to prevent the abortionist from murdering your grandchild. In this example, I would agree with violent defensive action.

However, under God’s moral law, we cannot act outside the authority of the civil magistrate to prevent all murder in all cases through the use of deadly force. The only exceptions to this would be the case of a war action, defending a family member, which I’ve mentioned, or a case in which all other options of non-violent resistance would be ineffective to defend a helpless victim. None of the four deadly shootings of abortion doctors that have occurred since 1993 fit these parameters.

It is also good to keep this in perspective. Four cases have occurred in 16 years in which abortion doctors have been shot to death in the United States. Yet since Roe v. Wade was decided, about 45 million unborn baby boys and girls have been slaughtered.

“Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” – Ezekiel 18:23

Except for the sorrow expressed by God himself when an unrepentant sinner perishes, I don’t mourn the death of those who deserve death. I expect that the general public’s attitude toward Tiller’s assassination is going to be a lot less austere than it was in 1993. We have a president who refused to vote to protect babies even in the ninth month of pregnancy. It’s no coincidence that abortion clinic related violence decreases when a pro-life president is in office, but increases when extreme pro-abortion legislation is enacted that is out of the mainstream of American public opinion.

Barack Obama is responsible for creating the atmosphere of violence among the defensive action folks in the pro-life movement, just as Bill Clinton and Janet Reno through their jackbooted federal thuggery were responsible for creating the frustrated backlash that erupted from among a fringe element who were previously quelled by opportunities for social and political activism within the larger peaceful movement.

As John F. Kennedy said about the civil rights movement, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”


%d bloggers like this: